Gourmet cheese has very recently come into play in the Indian markets. Cottage cheese, aka panneer, and Amul’s processed cheese products were the only ones we knew for a long time. Even the imported cheeses were the processed variety. Now we have reason to say cheese and smile. More and more Indians are dabbling in gourmet cheese making, our very own local cheese heroes! While some follow the European recipes, some others have come up with their own Indian versions of the popular ones. Here’s a peek into some of the gourmet cheese they’ve made available to us:
A young Indian farmer, Sunil Bhu, decided to follow his dreams and took up apprenticeship under a Master cheesemaker in Diksmuide, Flanders (Belgium). He later moved to North Italy to learn the production of a variety of South European cheeses. In the 90s, Sunil returned to Delhi and started his own brand “Flanders Dairy”. Located on the outskirts of Delhi, he initially started with making Gouda. Over the years they’ve moved to making mozzarella, kwark, ricotta, scamorza, bocconcin and mascarpone among many others.
Indian photographer Prateeksh Mehra and his brother Agnay came up with their Bombay versions of the French cheeses Brie and Camembert. They experimented with making cheese in their home, taking into consideration the humidity typical of Bombay. They call it the Bombrie and Camembay.
Mansoor Khan and his wife, Tina Khan, set Acres Wild on a small hill station in Tamil Nadu. In 2004, they started exploring cheese making and now offer over 20 kinds of gourmet artisan cheese. They even have 2 day long cheese making workshops for their guests. Acres Wild offers complete vegetarian cheeses that are made without any chemicals. Their range of cheese includes Feta, Ricotta and Halloumi among many others.
Pune based ABC farms is India’s leading cheese and dairy products manufacturer. The founders Rohinton Aga, Adi Bathena and Euch Chinoy started making cheese in 1976 with just 14 cows. Now the company produces over 65 varieties of natural cheese such as Pecorino goat cheese, Port Wine cheese, a vodka and cumin cheese and smoked ham cheese.
Based in Chandigarh, Exito specialises in Italian cheeses. They produce cheeses such as Buffalo Mozzarella, Ricotta, Mascarpone and others under the guidance of a chef from Naples. They ship to 500 stores around India.
Originally set up to cater to the citizens of Auroville, Pondicherry, La Ferme Cheese makes handmade farm cheese under a team of professional Indian, Dutch and French cheese-makers. The firm produces cheeses, such as Mozzarella, Feta, Lofabu, Auroblochon, Jeera Cheese and Ricotta, to name a few, using natural whole cow milk in the traditional cheese making method.
The Cheese Collective, started by Mansi Jasani,offers cheese made from goat’s milk from Karnataka. She makes three varieties that she sells from her home. She learnt how to make cheese in Vermont and returned home to start her own venture.